Science Experiment for Kids: Chip Ship 3


One of the great things about teaching at home is that often I learn more than the kids do. This was one of those experiences. I read through the instructions of this science experiment and had my 5-year-old gather the needed materials. While he was counting out 100 pennies, I was thinking about how to photograph the steps. When I got to the last step, I thought to myself, "that will never work!"

Yes, I was sure I knew more than the scientists who put this together.

So, who was right?

Today's experiment is from Potato Chip Science by Allen Kurzweil...does Allen know a little more about buoyancy than me?

Science Experiment Using a Chip Bag


  • 100 pennies
  • chip bag
  • bucket of water
  • lid that fits into chip bag and will keep it open

science experiment chip ship needed materials

The instructions say you may use a single serving chip bag and a smaller lid, but this is what I found at my house. I was forced to eat the last few pita chips.


1. Load the pennies into the empty chip bag "boat" making sure they are evenly distributed - if you are using a smaller bag, starting with 50 pennies might work better.

chip ship science experiment pennies in chip bag

2. Gently lower your penny-laden "boat" into a bucket with at least 5 inches of water and watch what happens.

chip ship science experiment boat sinks

3. If your "boat" sank, then take it out of the water and add the lid on top of the pennies so that it keeps the bag in an open position.

chip ship science experiment with lid added to boat

4. Gently set the "boat" on the water again.

chip ship experiment floats

Yep, the "boat" floats despite the 100 penny cargo!

Why does this happen? Positioning a lid on top of the pennies broadens the hull of your chip ship, which increases the volume inside the vessel and the amount of water displaced outside. The pennies at the bottom of the chip ship also serve as ballast--weight that improves stability. This is how a cargo ship filled with a very heavy load can stay afloat.

Oh, and I might mention that I was wrong...shhhhh!

Here are the full experiment instructions:

Publicity-Mad Science Club Experiments 3

science experiments for kids This is the third fun and easy science experiment that you can do with your kids at home.

The entire series was inspired by the people at Workman. They publish an array of crazy cool children's science resources. I have used several of them in homeschooling and when hosting homeschool can make ya look really smart to the other homeschool moms.

Holly Homer author of June Cleaver Nirvana Holly is a mad scientist at home. Pretty much everything she cooks in the kitchen turns out to be some sort of science experiment…and not in a good way. She is the stay at home mom of three boys. She is a Dallas Area Blogger who writes June Cleaver Nirvana and is the editor of She is Dallas. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
The following two tabs change content below.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Web Statistics